Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to assess soil health and improve it to raise crop yields. Find out when to test your soil and how to interpret the test results. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, adding organic matter, improving drainage and growing cover crops.

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Practical advice

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7 ways to flood-proof soils and improve drainage

Arable growers need to follow a seven-point plan to improve their soil structure especially if, as expected, new farm support payments will depend on healthy soils. With many arable areas…


How growers can help farming become carbon net zero 

Arable farmers will have a key role in helping the farming sector become net zero within 20 years, by locking up carbon and making better use of fuel and fertilisers.…


Pigs in the arable rotation - benefits and what to consider

Outdoor pig production could be a profitable opportunity for arable farmers looking to widen their crop rotation and reduce chemical use, especially for weed control. Integrating pigs into the arable…


How to avoid the top 3 micronutrient deficiencies in cereals

Needed in such finite quantities, micronutrients can be easily overlooked as another expense, with deficiencies putting cereal yields at risk as well as leading to crops that are more susceptible…


Early N is first step in rescuing waterlogged wheat crops

Applying early nitrogen (N) and phosphate fertiliser to wheat crops is the starting point for nursing them back to health, as farmers look to minimise the effect of waterlogging on…


How Yen growers delivered monster OSR and cereal yields

A winter wheat crop by Lincolnshire grower Mark Stubbs yielded 16.3t/ha to take the top prize in the Adas-organised Yield Enhancement Network (Yen) competition in 2019. Following good use of…

Case studies

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How a YEN winner grew top-yielding wheat and OSR crops

Award-winning winter wheat and oilseed rape yields are being produced by Lincolnshire grower Mark Stubbs from a farm that just six years ago was seeing yields being strangled by a bad blackgrass…


Mixed farm invests in direct drill for shift to no-till

Hefty spending on a new cereal drill and a robotic milking system demonstrates how one big Shropshire estate is looking to leave farming a in better shape for the next…


How catch crops cut one grower's costs and improved soils

After 10 years of successful cover cropping, Kent grower Guy Eckley has added catch crops to his rotation with the aim of accelerating the benefits to his soil health. These…


Why one grower went organic to tackle blackgrass problem

Faced with a bad blackgrass problem, Worcestershire grower Adrian Steele made the bold move of going organic to successfully reduce his weed problem and improve soil health. Chapel Farm, near…


How a Sussex grower successfully undersows maize with grass

West Sussex grower Frans de Boer is successfully using a low-cost method of undersowing maize with a blend of fescues to enhance soil health, reduce soil erosion and promote organic…


Organic grower turns to sheep to control weeds

Shropshire organic grower Mark Lea was concerned that docks might become a nuisance weed on his farm and, as he could not reach for a chemical can, he turned to…


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Grain testing project aims to improve crop nutrition

Farmers and agronomists could soon benefit from a new Adas initiative aimed at improving crop nutrition, by testing grain and benchmarking results. Work carried out as part of the Yield…


5 ways government policy can encourage soil-first farming

A lack of soil protection legislation has been a “catastrophic failure” by politicians, allowing costly degradation to continue relatively unabated until today, according to Reading University’s Chris Collins. European water…


Overlooked soil disease can halve oilseed rape yields

A soil-borne pathogen found in wheat and oilseed rape crops can cut rapeseed yields by up to 50%, and experts suggest growers need to look at longer rotations and cultivation…


Top tips to achieve more resilient and sustainable soils

One of the most common questions for farmers relating to “soil health” is how best to measure it and monitor progress once they have embarked on a mission to improve…

Latest soils news

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Trial looks at how much carbon soils can lock up

Farmers will soon be able to gain a better understanding of how much carbon soils are able to lock up, thanks to a new trial. Independent dairy specialist Kingshay is…


New tool helps farmers assess changes in soil quality

Farmers can now assess the value of any improvements to soil health, thanks to a new tool that accurately measures soil quality. The "soils matrix" tool assesses several factors relating…


Research shows cover crops can triple worm numbers

New research has found that growing cover crops and reducing cultivations can triple earthworm numbers, resulting in healthier soil. Earthworms are a key indicator of soil health as their activity…


Two growers find no-tillage success in dry and wet soils

Flexibility is the key to success for two no-tillage converts who farms very different arable areas – in some of the driest and wettest areas of Britain.  Simon Cowell has…


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Video: High-pressure water tech aids direct drilling success

Replacing drill coulters with a high-pressure jet to open up the soil will not only improve germination, its inventors believe it can aid rooting by cracking compaction and aerating soils.…


Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…